Oral Piercing

Oral piercing is the creation of a small hole in the tongue, lips, cheeks, or uvula (flap of skin hanging at the back of the throat) for the placement of jewelry. The skin is punctured with a needle, and the jewelry is threaded inside the skin. Sometimes a larger device initially is placed in the hole to accommodate swelling, then after several weeks of healing, a smaller piece of jewelry is placed in the newly formed hole.

 As with all procedures, there are risks. If you plan to have oral piercing, make sure you understand the risks and the safest way to have it done. Go to a reputable and sanitary establishment that is well equipped to do piercings.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

Oral piercing can pose the following health risks:

  • Infection at the piercing site.

  • Persistent pain.

  • Bleeding.

  • Injury to teeth or gums.

  • Nerve damage.

  • Trouble speaking or swallowing.

  • Trouble breathing because of swelling.

  • Excessive drooling.

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, hepatitis, or other body-wide infections.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE:

  • Discuss oral piercing with your dental or medical caregiver, especially if you are pregnant, have a skin condition, heart disease, or allergies.

  • Seek out a piercing artist who is certified by the Association of Professional Piercers. These are professionals who have been trained in sterile technique, infection control, and first aid.

  • Ask the piercing artist to explain his or her sterile procedures to you. Make sure he or she does not reuse needles. Make sure the piercing room is clean.

  • Receive care instructions after the procedure.

  • Ask your piercing artist for softer jewelry alternatives, such as bioplast, to minimize tooth damage.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Follow these general guidelines once you have had an oral piercing:

  • Drink plenty of cold fluids to reduce swelling.

  • Sleep with your head slightly elevated.

  • Rinse with antibacterial (non‑alcohol-based) mouth wash regularly.

  • Do not touch the piercing site.

  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy foods.

  • Keep your jewelry from banging on your teeth.

  • Tighten the jewelry ends regularly to make sure they do not become loose. This should only be done after the tongue has had a chance to heal.

  • Keep up good oral health. Brush at least 2 times per day and rinse and floss daily.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your jewelry cracks your teeth.

  • Your lips, tongue, gums, or cheeks bleed.

  • You have mouth sores or pain.

  • You have tooth pain.

  • You have numbness or tingling sensations in your mouth.

  • You have redness or swelling that is not going away.

  • You feel sick with fever or chills.

  • You have trouble breathing easily, speaking, or swallowing.

  • Your tongue feels like it is much larger than before the piercing.

  • You have swallowed or think you have swallowed your jewelry.